The flightless locus of Drosophila melanogaster has been analyzed at the genetic, molecular, ultrastructural and comparative crystallographic levels. The gene encodes a single transcript encoding a protein consisting of a leucine-rich amino terminal half and a carboxyterminal half with high sequence similarity to gelsolin. We determined the genomic sequence of the flightless landscape, the breakpoints of four chromosomal rearrangements, and the molecular lesions in two lethal and two viable alleles of the gene. The two alleles that lead to flight muscle abnormalities encode mutant proteins exhibiting amino acid replacements within the S1-like domain of their gelsolin-like region. Furthermore, the deduced intron-exon structure of the D. melanogaster gene has been compared with that of the Caenorhabditis elegans homologue. Furthermore, the sequence similarities of the flightless protein with gelsolin allow it to be evaluated in the context of the published crystallographic structure of the S1 domain of gelsolin. Amino acids considered essential for the structural integrity of the core are found to be highly conserved in the predicted flightless protein. Some of the residues considered essential for actin and calcium binding in gelsolin S1 and villin V1 are also well conserved. These data are discussed in light of the phenotypic characteristics of the mutants and the putative functions of the protein.